2012: The year for ageing
We are all living in an era of unprecedented ageing, yet the voices of older people in developing countries and the issues they face remain mostly unheard. In fact, many of us living in Europe are completely detached from the fact that "their" issues are "our" issues.
By 2050 there will be more people in the world who are 60 and over than children aged 14 and under. Yet even these kinds of shocking statistics aren't enough to make people realise that action must be taken.
Maybe 2050 seems too far in the future for the challenges faced by older people - illness, isolation, age discrimination, lack of income, to name but a few... to seem tangible.
The current financial crisis and its short term effect have diverted us from the huge impact that rapid population ageing will have on us all over the next 50-100 years.
A key year for ageing
However, we hope things will be different in 2012. Slowly but surely, we are seeing positive steps that ageing and the issues it raises are finally being more widely recognised.
2012 is a key year for ageing for many reasons. Firstly, governments all over the world will review their policies on ageing in the ten-year review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA).
MIPAA is the first global agreement which recognises older people as contributors to their societies. It commits governments to including ageing in all social and economic development policies. This includes poverty reduction programmes, such as the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.
Arguably the most important part of this process is that older people have been part of it. With UNFPA, we have carried out group discussions with older people in 30 countries to see whether and how their lives have changed over the last decade.
We will use these findings in a report on the State of the World's Older Persons to be published on the UN International Day of Older Persons this year.
European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations
2012 is also the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012). A coalition of organisations, including HelpAge, has called for commitments to mainstream ageing into all relevant EU policies.
The manifesto also calls for "a society for all ages where everyone is empowered to play an active part in society and enjoy equal rights and opportunities in all stages of their life".
The main objectives of EY2012 are to:
- promote active ageing in employment
- facilitate active ageing in the community
- promote healthy ageing and independent living
- enhance solidarity between the generations.
This is a great opportunity to get international and European decision makers involved in our work. As the world's largest aid donor, the EU needs to better include older people in its development policy and programmes. Our Age Demands Action campaign encourages European citizens to lobby their governments and political figures to make this happen.
Bringing generations together through dialogue
EY2012 is also a brilliant chance to build on our work to bring generations - old and young from the developed and developing world - together.
Over the last two years, we have been enabling older people in developing countries and EU citizens to talk to each other via a video dialogue on our website.
We want to bridge the gap between young and old and show that older people can play a crucial role in their communities. They just need the right kind of support. Let's hope this year will be the year decision-makers start listening to their needs.
- Support our campaign to lobby the EU to include older people in their development policies and programmes by signing our EU Lead the Way petition.
- Watch this space for more news about our intergenerational campaign for EY2012!
- And if you have any events or campaigns planned for EY2012, let us know.